Buhera, Zimbabwe | AFP | Thousands of Zimbabweans gathered Tuesday to bid a final farewell to opposition veteran Morgan Tsvangirai who was one of Africa’s most globally admired politicians and lived to see the fall of his political nemesis Robert Mugabe.
Tsvangirai, the country’s fiercest opponent of former president Mugabe’s tyrannical 37-year rule, died last Wednesday aged 65 at a hospital in South Africa where he had been undergoing treatment for colon cancer.
His body was flown to the burial ceremony aboard a military helicopter, accompanied by his mother Mbuya Tsvangirai.
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Thousands of mourners gathered for the burial at Tsvangirai’s Buhera rural home, 220 kilometres (135 miles) south of Harare.
Many people in the crowd blew whistles and wore red shirts emblazoned with Tsvangirai’s portrait, some weeping openly.
Tsvangirai’s dreams of unseating Mugabe through the ballot box were dashed at several elections.
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga, attending the event, condemned political oppression in Africa as he addressed supporters of Tsvangirai whose electoral ambitions, like Odinga’s, were thwarted at controversial polls.
“Africa is littered with elections which are rigged,” Odinga told the crowds.
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– ‘Morgan’s election victory was stolen’ –
Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in the first round of presidential polls in 2008 but narrowly fell short of the total required to defeat Mugabe outright, according to the official vote count.
Tsvangirai pulled out of an election run-off following violence which, he said, claimed the lives of at least 200 of his supporters.